Multiculturalism is spoken about a lot nowadays, but what is it? It is the philosophy which believes that different cultures, in a society, can happily co-exist. The desire is that cultures can live harmoniously side-by-side and even benefit from each other. If this is truly happening then we have to say that it is a good thing because true peace is a good thing. We remember that the coming of our Saviour was accompanied by a declaration from the angels of Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those men on whom his favour rests.” (Luke 2:14). Peace among people is a thing we should long for. The problem is, though, that which so many people long for, namely peace on earth, cannot be achieved by society. Why is this?
The Failure Of Multiculturalism Multiculturalism fails because it does not have the glue to stick cultures together. Jesus Christ is the “glue” who brings people together. If Jesus is LORD and therefore first in people’s lives then those people will be in harmony. In contrast, the world operates on the principle of self-first. Self interest is the prime motivator. If I can benefit from another culture or individuals in another culture then all well-and-good. However, should I conclude that another culture is harming my situation or the group with which I am associated then I will not be happy. In such a situation I reject the “other” person or group in order to gain personal advantage.
Whatever the aspirations that are trumpeted abroad as regards the benefits of a multicultural society they ultimately fail because of man’s selfishness. All the dreams down the ages of a “brotherhood of mankind” harmoniously existing in perfect harmony are just empty dreams. This should not surprise us because the Bible, from one perspective, gives us the story of how people relentlessly divide and fight among themselves. The dispute between the first two individuals born on the planet sets the tone. Cain killed Abel ultimately because he thought he would benefit from doing so. Abel had been accepted by God and therefore was in an advantageous position over Cain who had had his offering rejected. Cain therefore simply got rid of Abel; he murdered him (see Genesis 4:1-8).
Mankind, either as individuals or groups, has been following Cain’s example right down to the present day. Once I perceive that I am disadvantaged by someone else being around, then I turn against them. This is the relentless story of history and scripture. Accordingly, rather than getting along harmoniously different groups / cultures in a society almost inevitably tend to be in conflict with one another. Multiculturalism fails.
False Multiculturalism. Some would argue that all this conflict would be brought to an end if all religions, which are very often closely associated with different cultures, simply came together. The theory is that if all the religions of the world simply set aside their differences and came together then we would all live happily ever after; there would be peace. This approach pre-supposes that one religion is as good as the next. This is how the multi-faith proponents would have us see things. But it is not like that. True Christianity is not on a par with the next religion; it is completely out on its own. This is not because of arrogant self-assertion by its adherents. Rather it is because Christ Jesus our LORD set Himself apart from all other so-called “messiahs” and “saviours”. He said, for example, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Accordingly, to adopt multiculturalism in the religious sphere is a complete denial of our faith. Christ is distinct and through being Christ’s we are distinct. Paul put it like this: Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? (2 Cor. 4:14-15). All other faiths outside of Christ are darkness and unbelief and we should separate from them.
True Multiculturalism. There is a true and beautiful multiculturalism though, and that is found in the church. Its endpoint is seen in heaven where we read of the redeemed there, that they sing a new song to their Saviour: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation (Rev. 5: 9). Here we see representatives from all cultures harmoniously together in peace.
We are not talking here about religions coming together, but of peoples from all backgrounds coming together in Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28) is how Paul reflects upon our oneness in Christ. He further says that we should Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Eph. 4:3-6). Here we reach the heart of the matter it is the unity of the Spirit. Every believer has the Holy Spirit dwelling within them and He creates this multicultural oneness in Christ.
The call for us as believers is to live out this oneness. At Feltham Evangelical Church we are multicultural according to our background. However, we come together in Christ. This is not an empty aspiration, but it is made substantial by us having the glue to stick us together and that glue is the Holy Spirit.
Let us finally go back to where we started. The angels said that with the Saviour coming there would be on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests (Luke 2:14b). It is only those who are in Christ that have the Holy Spirit who have His favour resting upon them. Therefore, harmony only exists between people who share this experience. The world can never make multiculturalism work; no matter how much it wants to because it does not have Christ. In contrast in the church we find the only place on earth where multiculturalism can succeed. Let us then seek to move forward together as “one” realising that each believer, regardless of background, has been received on one basis; namely “in Christ”.
(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church Newsletter of March 2010)